Summer is finally here! Last week ushered in the Summer Solstice. It was the longest day of the year and the shortest night. That's good news, right? Well, yes....but where did Spring go? Did I miss it? We are already almost halfway through the year, but t seems like just yesterday; it was winter, and I longed for Spring's beauty and warmth. My busy schedule hijacked my life, and now, I wonder where Spring went. I've walked through the last several months in a fog, missing Spring, void of hope.
Spring and hope share many similarities. The definition of hope is: to cherish a desire
with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true. But it also means: to expect with confidence. Hope is like seeds planted in our hearts that there will be growth and beauty in our lives. In the same way, in Spring, we confidently plant seeds that will sprout, grow, and produce a beautiful harvest. But what happens when we miss Spring and can't find our hope?
Some challenging circumstances this past winter caused my hope to falter. Maybe that is why I feel like I missed Spring. It's as if I've been numb or slept through the entire season, pushing through my schedule with drudgery. It's not even as if I was aware of it, but recently I realized that I felt flat and gray. I believe, in some ways, gray became a habit for me. Maybe it felt safe because it was familiar or just more manageable.
In the past, one of the things I have enjoyed most about Spring is that the fireflies start coming out. As the sun sets, I love to venture out and take a walk around our property. I call it the magic hour - when the fireflies are most active, and it's truly magical. The other night it occurred to me that I should go out and enjoy the magic hour before it was over. But then I brushed off the thought. Oh, I can do it later... it's hot tonight.... I'm tired. Whatever excuse worked for that moment. I put it off, rejected the fireflies' light, and then the moment was gone. Like Spring - I missed it.
In the introduction of my book Victorious Heart I write:
"Hope is not fragile; just hard to find when the lights go out."
Lately, I've questioned that statement. In my tired and overwhelmed condition, hope did feel fragile. Frozen in the never-ending darkness of winter. I don't know when the lights went out on my hope. Did it happen suddenly, or like a dimmer switch that slowly darkened my days? However, the Lord reminded me that hope is found in Him alone - not the circumstances around me.
"Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you."
Because of Him, hope thrives even under challenging circumstances. Like the singular flower that forces itself up through the cracks in the sidewalk, hope can flourish and grow, despite the difficulties was around me.
I had to become intentional about scheduling time to begin practices that would help me to illuminate hope.
I had become so accustomed to being in constant motion that I learned I had to actually schedule downtime. Sometimes that may mean saying "no" to invitations or obligations. That's okay. Give yourself permission to sit on the back porch or even take a nap. Just allow yourself to be still. Yes, I know... when our bodies are still, sometimes our minds drift to hard things. Often it's easier to fill our days with tasks and activities, so we don't have to think. But, it's okay to visit those hard things. Sometimes it's there that we can deal with our pain and allow God's light to bring healing to those places.
Another area I had neglected was that of spending time reading the Bible. I was busy, so I'd skip a day, then one day turned to another, and I got out of the habit. Eventually, that habit allowed the lights to dim in my daily life. Psalms 119:105 says that God's word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Scripture literally lightens our life. It doesn't have to be long passages at a time, but it's essential to develop the practice of reading or listening to scripture daily. I use an app on my phone that reads through the Bible in a year. Whatever works for you, find a place and schedule a time to read or listen to God's word. Allow the words written there to lighten your path and usher in hope.
Schedule Creative Space
During this dark time, it came to my attention that anything creative in me was dry. My writing especially suffered. I felt so overwhelmed with stuff that I had to do, that when I finally did sit down to write, I was exhausted, and there was nothing left. I believe that there is an aspect of creativity in all of us. We are created in God's image, and His creativity is evident everywhere. We may not be defined as great artists like painters or musicians, but God gives us imaginations to cultivate. Maybe you are gifted at creating a beautiful meal for your family or friends. You might express your imagination by serving or creating an environment for others to rest. Our creativity only blossoms when we intentionally schedule time to develop it. Once that happens, light begins to filter in.
This world is full of noise vying for our attention. Space for us to feel, live, grow, and hope won't happen unless we schedule it. Our physical and emotional resources are limited here, which might mean saying "no" sometimes. This isn't about being self-focused; it's about being emotionally healthy so that we can live out our purpose while on this planet. How can we be light to this dark world if we ourselves live in darkness without hope?
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."